For the third consecutive season, we are proud to introduce the Deadspin Baseball Season Previews. Yes, baseball is awfully close now; it's spring training, after all.
Every weekday until the start of the season, a different writer will preview his/her team. We asked a gaggle of writers, from the Web, from print, from books, to tell us, in as many or as little words as they need, Where Their Team Stands. This is not meant to be factual, or dispassionate, or even logical: We just asked them to riff on why they love their team so much, or what their team means to them, or whatever.
Today: The Los Angeles Dodgers. Your author is Lion In Oil's Fun Sheriff.
Lion In Oil is written by the Fun Sheriff, and is devoted to sports, tomfoolery and madness - with a special affinity for the absurd. His words are after the jump.
Los Angeles is a city of image, makeovers and second chances. You can always reinvent yourself here - there are plenty of plastic surgeons to help fix whatever problems you might have, real or imagined. And while for much of the Dodgers' time in LA they have been able to defy the Los Angeles stereotypes, since Tommy Lasorda's retirement in 1996 it's been a different tale. It's been a procession of managers (6) and general managers (6), and almost too many players to count.
Each year the team has declared that this is the squad to win team's second playoff game since 1988 and that this is the team to put the team back on track where it truly belongs. This year is no different. There are fresh faces as well as familiar ones, all with something to prove. Joe Torre is the new manager and is looking to put a successful finishing touch to the third act that is his career. Andruw Jones will be patrolling center field, and he'll surely use this season as a statement to show what kind of contract he should have gotten in the off-season. And the young kids will be out to prove that they were worth holding on to.
So while we've heard it all before, perhaps this truly is the year it all comes together. It's certainly a possibility - the table is set for a potentially amazing year. They have the veteran leadership. Between Jeff Kent, Derek Lowe, Rafael Furcal, Jason Schmidt and Jones there surely isn't anything they haven't seen before. They're all playoff tested. And could there be a steadier hand to guide the team than Torre? There must be a formula to determine the number of wins won by a team just by the positive mental influence a proven, winning manager brings. Whatever that number might be, the Dodgers will gain it.
Yet complimented to the veterans are the Dodgers' young studs. When the veterans are sloshing through the dog days of summer, the youth movement can pick them up. Their youthful exuberance can be counted upon for an outfield assist, an extra base, or a steal. They've infiltrated the lineup, and they're here. Their time is now. It's time to take the reigns off of James Loney, Matt Kemp, Jonathan Broxton and Russell Martin and let them play.
So in this Dodgers season preview I can only offer a prediction as such: I don't know. Coming off a season where the Rockies won 14 out of 15, making it to the World Series and the Mets blew a 7 game lead with 17 games to go, anything is possible. So maybe this is the year it all comes together. Maybe young meshes with old, creating an unstoppable force. Maybe Jason Schmidt comes back healthy and Nomar Garciaparra regains his old form. Maybe.
I hope so, of course. But more than any one player, I love the team - the Dodgers. No matter what happens, you can find me at some point this summer up in the Reserved section, eating an All-Beef Dodger Dog, and enjoying the game amidst the beautiful surroundings. Win or lose, there's no place I'd rather be.